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The Sweet 16 in the men’s NCAA tournament has been set, with an unexpected surprise from the ACC. The conference boasts four teams in the final 16, including Clemson, Duke, North Carolina, and NC State. This performance by the ACC, which has been dismissed as shallow and less competitive than other conferences, outperformed power-conference counterparts like the Big 12, which produced two Sweet 16 teams, and the Big Ten, which produced Purdue and Illinois. The ACC’s success reinforces the idea that the metrics used to determine the tournament field may not always accurately reflect the strength of conferences.

The Big East, on the other hand, still has a gripe with the selection committee after having only three of its six teams make the NCAA tournament. UConn, Marquette, and Creighton are all still in the tournament, with UConn remaining a favorite to win it all. The conference snubs, including St. John’s, Seton Hall, and Providence, must watch from home after falling victim to a chaotic conference tournament weekend that saw multiple bids stolen by unexpected automatic qualifiers. St. John’s particularly may have belonged in the field, making the Big East’s success from afar even more painful.

Houston survived an overtime thriller against Texas A&M to reach the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight season. The Cougars held on late despite having four starters foul out, winning 100-95 in overtime. Jamal Shead led Houston with 21 points and 10 assists, helping secure their spot in the next round. Alabama also advanced to the Sweet 16 after beating Grand Canyon in a chaotic game that ended in a 72-61 victory for the Crimson Tide, their second consecutive Sweet 16 berth in over two decades.

San Diego State easily defeated Yale to advance to the Sweet 16, setting up a rematch with top-seeded UConn. The Aztecs, who led the entire way against Yale, will have a chance for revenge after falling to UConn in last season’s national championship game. A win for San Diego State not only provides closure after last year’s loss but could also open up the rest of the tournament. Alabama’s next challenge in the Sweet 16 will be against top-seeded North Carolina, while Houston will face Duke as the ACC continues to showcase its strength in the tournament.

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